A local research group could hold the key to figuring out how to stop windmills from killing so many birds.
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For the last few years, Mike Wallace a researcher affiliated with the San Diego Zoo has been releasing condors outfitted by GPS transmitters in Mexico.
"The endangered nature of the condor
it makes it imperative we do everything we can to make sure a collision doesn't occur," said Wallace.
Wallace's research group, The Institute For Conservation Research, is tracking 27 of the 200 condors outside captivity with transmitters. However, the tracking can have a lag time of hours and even days.
Enter some new technology which is capable of tracking almost real-time. The GSM transmitter contains GPS technology and can also talk to cell towers. It can track the position, altitude and speed of the bird.
Researchers are now designing a mapping system that could be used by windmill operators to stop turbines once the birds are near.
The transmitter system could become an alternative for radar systems, which can cost millions of dollars and are used by few windmill owners.
If a turbine kills a condor, operators could face criminal charges and lawsuits.
"We're hoping this system can be a lot more cost-effective," said Wallace.
Wallace said the cost for his system would be in the tens of thousands of dollars. He believes the transmitters could also be used by windmill owners to watch for other dwindling species, including whooping cranes and golden eagles and the hidden cost of green energy.
One Bay Area wind farm kills about 67 golden eagles every year. Across the nation, an estimated 450,000 birds are killed every year by wind turbines.
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